Sugar Cage – Connie May Fowler

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Sandy has been raving about Connie May Fowler ever since I discovered her blog. The continual repetition of her name finally persuaded me to find a copy of Sugar Cage.

Sandy lives close to the author in Florida, so the books have a personal connection for her. I was worried that without this link to the book it would lack the magic for me, and I’m afraid I think this was the case.

Sugar Cage is set amidst the sand dunes of the Florida’s northeast Atlantic coast and the swamps and sugar cane fields to the south. It tells a complex story of family relationships, racism and death.

Some of the writing in the book was fantastic, so vivid and enthralling, but then the next page would leave me cold. I’m not sure why this was, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which has such a split personality. The plot was quite complex, and would probably benefit from a second reading as I’m sure I missed a few things.

There is a massive cast of characters in this book, and regular readers of this blog know that I often struggle to cope with so many people. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different person, so I would just be getting to know them and then the plot would switch to someone new, sometimes never returning  to that person again. This meant that I struggled to bond with most of the characters, and there were occasions when I didn’t really know what was going on.

I can see why Sandy loves this book, and I would be willing to read more books by this author as long as I was assured that there were fewer characters.

Recommended to anyone who lives in Florida.

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Do you love books by local authors?

Are you upset when other people don’t fall in love with your favourites?

Sorry Sandy! Don’t worry – I do still trust your recommendations!


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14 Comments

  1. Violet says:

    Lots of characters confuse me too. I haven’t read anything by Connie May Fowler yet, so I’ll take care to google and see there are fewer chars before reading any :) But this book does have a beautiful setting.

    1. Jackie says:

      Yes, the setting is amazing and I can see why anyone who loves Florida would also love this book.

  2. Sandy says:

    Oh, I AM sad! There were alot of characters in this book, but like others that have confused me, this one did not. I guess that each of the characters were so incredibly different, I had no issues in keeping them straight. If it is any consolation, I don’t think any of her other books had this many people in them. I do hope you try another of her books, they are all so beautiful!

    1. Jackie says:

      You’re right – the characters were very diifferent from each other, so I didn’t get them mixed up. My problem was a bonding issue. I only knew who the characters were, rather than having any empathy with them.

      The plot was chopped up into so many little parts that it had no forward momentum for me.

      I’m sorry I didn’t love it as much as you did, but I have just started listening to Testimony, your audio book recommendation, and it is really good!

      1. Sandy says:

        Testimony has alot of characters as well, all narrated by different people, which is fun. Knowing now that you aren’t a fan of stories with alot of characters, I will be interested to see what you think of that one. Again, it is pretty easy to keep the personalities separate with the way the narration is handled. Its not a happy story, and I found myself really angry at some of the participants!

        1. Jackie says:

          I am loving Testimony – maybe the audio version helps me to differentiate between the different characters. I can see that it isn’t going to be happy, but it is brilliant so far.

  3. Nicole says:

    The multiple characters can be really tough. I don’t mind as much when the characters have sections a few times and you get to now them a little. It’s a pet peeve of mine when a character drops in, narrates one section and then disappears. That always throws me off. But this sounds like it has a good storyline going on that I would be interested in. Have you read Mudbound? It da similar themes and multiple character pov, but not crazy, and it was excellent!

    1. Jackie says:

      I loved Mudbound! The stories aren’t very similar. Sugar Cage is much more modern and deals more with family relationships/problems than the bigger issues of racism present in Mudbound.

      Mudbound was so simple compared to the layers contained in this one.

  4. Jeanne says:

    Dorothea Benton Frank has made a lot of money writing about an area that many people love because they vacation there (the area surrounding Charleston, SC). The same way, many of us who have been to the U.K. are fonder of books describing places we remember there than we would be otherwise.

    1. Jackie says:

      I’ve never heard of Dorothea Benton Frank before.

      I often prefer books from remote places I’ve never been to – I love Indian and Chinese books, although this may be due to the culture rather than a beautiful setting.

  5. Beth F says:

    So sorry this one didn’t work out for you. But because of Sandy’s enthusiasm, I know that I’m going read on of Fowler’s books — just as soon as get caught up (Haaaaaaaaa)

    1. Jackie says:

      I’ll probably read a few more too. Her enthusiasm is very powerful!

  6. I do enjoy books that, maybe are not necessarily by local authors, but take place where I live(d). Something about saying, I go there all the time! is exciting to me. That was the case when I read Flight by Sherman Alexie, and I noted in my review that it’s talk about Pioneer Square in Seattle was a draw for me. After I did the review, I found out that the book did not sell well at all, and I wonder if I didn’t live in Seattle if I’d feel the same way.

  7. cbjames says:

    Fortunately for me, Michael Chabon and Armistead Maupin are local authors. There are many “local” authors in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live.

    I really get upset when people don’t like my favorite authors. I admit it. I get much too invovled with them. I often won’t tell people about them because I’m afraid they won’t like them. I know this is irrational and its a major job hazard, too. Because I am an English teacher who still pushes recreational reading on his students I constantly make recommendations to them. I often bring them two or three books and let them choose on that we’ll read. Whatever they pick I always end up feeling bad about the books they didn’t choose. Even when they pick the book I would have if I were them.

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